KQ boss sends mixed signals on tenure of 5 Polish expats

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ chief executive Sebastian Mikosz has sent mixed signals regarding the tenure of five Polish nationals hired to help turn around the ailing national carrier.

While stating that the five expatriates will be hired on an initial three-month contract, Mr Mikosz fell short of clarifying whether the contracts are subject to extension.

“The advantage of these guys is that I trust them and I have worked with them. They could hit the ground (running) within I think three weeks. Will they stay? Will they not stay? That is not decided,” said Mr Mikosz at a press briefing yesterday.

Mikosz said the aviation veterans were hired from Poland— also his home country— because he wants to take advantage of their previous experience turning around an ailing airline.

The decision to hire Mr Mikosz, who took up the top post at Kenya Airways in June this year, was heavily hinged on his experience at Lot Polish Airlines, where he pulled a non-profitable entity out of the red.

The new employees were part of the team that revamped LOT Polish Airlines.

Their employment at KQ, which first became public on Wednesday through a leaked memo, was effective September 1.

READ: Shake-up looms as KQ boss hires five Polish executives

He added that the new team would not be replacing any members of Kenya Airways’ senior management but would, rather, work with the existing team to improve operations.

Kenya Airways board chairman, Mr Michael Joseph, told journalists that the board had approved the new hires.

COTU weighs in

However, their recruitment has brooked protest.

In a statement, the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) deemed the decision to hire the Polish nationals as “unacceptable”. COTU says that hiring foreigners would exacerbate tensions at the national carrier.

“Therefore the current chief executive officer Mr Sebastian Mikosz should bear in mind that Kenya has people...some people more qualified than him and there is no need for him to hire first line managers from his own country of origin,” said COTU today.

The five new employees are Monika Kiełtyka-Michna, former chief corporate officer at LOT Polish Airlines; Edyta Kijewska-Teny, a data and IT systems expert; Magdalena Serwach, a corporate governance expert; Marcin Celejwski, a former chief commercial officer at LOT Polish Airlines; and Michał Śmierciak who once ran LOT Polish Airlines’ procurement centralization.

Mr Mikosz said that he had presented the Kenya Airways board with a five-year plan that will guide the airline’s recovery.

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